The most decotared cathedral I have ever seen and I had no mobile phone to capture it.
Slovak version – slovenská verzia.
In early May 2017 I was on business in Santa Susanna, Spain. For a few days I was living in a hotel full of fitness models (really), taking pictures of the competitors on stage, talking with coaches and processing photos and writing reports at night. I had one free day before our flight back so I decided to visit Barcelona. With my room mate, who is also called Erik, we took a suburban train from Santa Susanna to Placa de Catalonya – see the map.
We walked out from the underground train station to the Placa de Catalonya. First impression was similar to the cities in Western Europe. Trio of military men with machine guns reminded me that the things have changed since I travelled Europe in my mid 20s. The security issue is really serious, etched in the face expressions of the patrolmen who did not smile even when they were Spanish, who tend to be rather friendly.
Anyway, there was some of the southern ‘maňana’ spirit in the air (not only humidity). Some of the buildings were quite exotic, maybe it is the impact of Muslims who resided here in the Middle Ages, but more probably it is down to the the capricious drawings of Gaudi, who, apart from the cathedral, designed several buildings in the city.
First, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe, which is a must on all my visits. It was full of people. I did not want to be the kind of tourist who comes, takes pictures and goes so I spent some time reading the notes to each of the memorabilia in order to enhance my knowledge. There was a guitar of Jimi Hendrix, shirt of Michael Jackson, Shakira´s stage outfit (I wonder whether it would be there if she was not dating that FC Barcelona player Pique) and also a guitar from Metallica.
We went on towards the cathedral, following the route highlighted in a tourist map by a girl from the information centre. We double checked the route with a local taxi driver and taking into consideration the fact that the girl might be just a part-timer (sorry girl but youth unemployment in Spain is almost 30 percent), we decided to trust the taxi driver. On our way we stopped at a mobile shop to fix my friend´s phone, which had broken down. After spending there about 10 minutes charging our phones and buying some souvenirs we went on.
We took a few profile pictures with the cathedral in the background and walked into a wok restaurant to eat some noodles. The camera on my phone stopped working so I decided to restart the whole machine. Upon entering the PIN I remembered that I bought a Spanish SIM card, when we arrived, to have internet connection (so clever). Of course that I did not know the PIN (so stupid) and I could not use my phone. I could not use my camera, my notes, my diary… As a professional journalist I was done.
Often I am too busy with taking pictures without enjoying the actual object. Now the life passed me an opportunity to do it. Care more about you experience than social valuation. So I was standing there without any tool that would enable me to capture the majestic beauty for the eternity of the social networks, which indeed lasts for about one day. I was just standing, admiring the precise work and trying to think about something clever that would put my empty admiration into a frame of an amateur architect.
The cathedral is in neo-gothic style, nicely decorated (maybe little bit too much) and it is different from each side. From the point of view of architecture, the pillars inside are poorly designed in terms of stability, as I later found out from architects, but it was Gaudi´s purpose to build a miracle. Upon completion, the spires will be 170 m tall, which is higher than the nearby hills.
When we were done with the cathedral, we decided to walk back to the station. Erik´s phone was running low on battery and in case one of us got lost in the crowds, we would not be able to find each other.
We walked the streets with small cafes and bakeries, some of them full of multinational life, because the owners were Asians and the guests spoke multiple languages. Olympic Games in 1992 brought a massive upturn in visitor numbers coming to Barcelona. It is the tenth most visited city in the world and third in Europe.
Before getting the train, I walked into a FC Barcelona shop to catch some of the football atmosphere. The club was founded by Joan Gamper in 1899. He was a football enthusiast from Switzerland who collected the players on a newspaper advertisement. The rest is history…
While waiting at the station, I read some local papers. El Periodico is a Catalonian newspaper, which is evident from their support of the independence of the region. Economically, Catalonia is the strongest region of Spain. On the other hand, El Pais based in Madrid tried to keep the country together. With all of the worries over Brexit, I do not think that it is a good idea to make further cuts on the map of Europe. But the locals with their own language, bullfighting tradition and football might feel it differently.